This entry was inspired by a Washington Post article about how the use of a dishwasher is the last frontier in an immigrant household, an indication of complete Americanization. The dishwasher is a rare kitchen appliance in most countries outside of the US and apparently many immigrants resist using them because they think they are a superfluous waste of electricity and the job can be better accomplished by hand washing. Unfortunately, whenever I wash my dishes in my hall’s sink (which measures about 1 cu. Ft.), I hope and pray that somehow, perhaps for Christmas, a dishwasher will magically appear in our lounge, fresh from Santa’s bag and ready to clean months of caked-on food. I abhor washing dishes in our tiny sink, where more water ends up on your clothes and the counter than on the dishes, so much so that I have switched to using mostly paper plates. But, I realized that before coming to college, I took my home’s dishwasher completely for granted. Loading and unloading the dishwasher was a daily burden and I often wanted to hit it with a sledge hammer since it beeps every 15 minutes once it is done
running, to remind us that it needed to be emptied. I took advantage of it, basically, and once I came to college I realized that the dishwasher is on a long list of things that make life so much more enjoyable, but are too commonplace at home to realize how great they are. So, I’ve compiled a list! For the prefrosh out there, hopefully you will read this and appreciate your cushy life a little more. And for the college students, you are not alone.
1) Parents– Yes, they nag, impose curfews, tell you to clean your room, do your homework, empty the dishwasher (ha!), pick up your sister, study for the SATs, fill out college applications, eat your vegetables, etc. But, it turns out that they do a lot of great stuff too (who would have thought?), things that overshadow their seemingly constant instructions. In college, if you fall (physically and metaphorically), who will kiss it and make it all feel better? The MIT Medical nurse? No, she doesn’t want to get near your blood, God knows what kind of diseases you harbor, you dirty college student. Your roommate? Ditto, she was listening in health class. Your advisor? Rightttt! I think most people really miss home the first time they get sick. As you sit miserably in your bed, too wiped to even get up to go to the bathroom, your mind wanders and you begin to hallucinate that your parents are walking into your room, bringing you movies, soup, and medicine and telling you to stay home from school while taking your temperature. Here? The best you’ve got is a nice roommate who will make you tea and buy you a sandwich. You’re on your own, baby.
2)Large beds- College dorm rooms are all fitted with “extra long” twin beds, a crucial factoid when buying sheets. Don’t buy normal twin sheets, they will be 5” too short — what those few inches gets you I have yet to find out. Maybe I’m just not tall enough to appreciate it. I will grow 5” and then write an article about how I took extra long beds for granted, too. Anyway, at home, I have a full-sized bed; boy was I spoiled by 4,050 sq. in. of plush mattress. Here, I get a squeaky 3,120, with a mattress stained with God knows what by God knows who. I am also sleeping on a bunk bed (to save space, #6 on this list), for the first time in my life (beyond occasional trips and sleepovers), and my poor roomie has to sleep on the top bunk. Unfortunately, the bunk bed designers weren’t quite clever enough to design any sort of ladder to get to the top bed, so my roommate performs incredible feats of acrobatics, which I am sure will be enough training for at least a Bronze medal in the Olympics. I’d like to think that I was the cause of that one.
3)Dishwashers (already covered that one.)
4)Cars– It’s 1:30 AM and you’re at 77 Mass. Ave. Or it’s 9:25 AM and you’re in front of your dorm (trying to make it to a 9:30 class.) Or it’s 5:30 PM and you’re in front of the supermarket. What do all of these situations have in common? You are waiting for the Safe Ride, MIT’s campus shuttle, which is late or maybe not even coming. Safe Ride is usually very helpful and many people are spending a lot of time and money to make the system better, and I thank them for that. But, nothing is quite like a car. Granted, paying for gas is like pulling teeth and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I don’t have to do it, but walking two miles with 20 pounds of groceries distributed around my body isn’t quite my idea of fun. Also not fun: walking an equal distance in the snow and sleet, when it’s -20 degrees outside. Cars, with their beautiful heated seats and protection from the elements, are where it’s at.
5)Bathrooms– This is a big one. You know you’re cool and well adjusted when you can rattle off which showers have a combination of high water pressure and a functioning drain. Well, you also know that you are very lucky, because it does not happen often. Once I came to college, I had to nix my showering routine which consisted of singing along to my bathroom radio while soaking in bliss for extended periods of time. Here? We don’t have bathtubs, I know some dorms do, but it makes it difficult to enjoy your shower when you barely have enough room to lift up your elbows. And at home, remember when your bathroom had tons of cool books and magazines? The John was a place of peace and comfort, where you were insulated from the havoc occurring outside of your personal oasis. I don’t think anyone would consider their dorm’s bathroom to be anything close. Instead, it’s a place to get grossed out by hairballs, frustrated by the dearth of toilet paper, or embarrassed when someone sees you tromping around in your towel. My friend from Dartmouth was telling me a story about how she came home one night to find that her bathroom had been completely ransacked, the towel rack was pulled off the wall and there was *insert name of human excrement here* smeared everywhere. It doesn’t get nearly that bad here, but you get the gist.
6)Space- There are singles in Baker that are called “coffins.” Enough said. Most dorm rooms have the square footage of one of your closets back home. College students are masters of the game Jenga, since we get a lot of practice in our rooms. The art of piling dirty dishes, course bibles, clothes, CDs, anything and everything, is mastered after a few weeks here. Fortunately, we can’t complain too much about rooms here, since most have such amazing views that if you stare out of the window enough then you don’t have to look around your actual room.
7)Privacy, or the lack thereof- It is tough to get alone time in college. Remember that scene in “There’s Something About Mary” where she’s singing into her hairbrush microphone and dancing in her underwear? Yea, don’t try that here, someone in your hall will take your picture and immortalize it on the web.
Don’t get me wrong, college is great and I LOVE it here. The lack of the above items is part of the experience and college also has its perks (many of them.) But, you know, I just felt like reminiscing and complaining. Feel free to add to this list, in the comments sections or just complain in general (about psets, boyfriends/girlfriends, the weather, whatever you want.) Get it all out, you’ll feel better.